Boston United 2-1 Lincoln City Reserves

Midland League

26th December 1947

What Boston versus Lincoln City derby game has had the highest attendance? Was it their first Football League encounter, or the game from the 87/8 season that Lincoln spent in the Conference, or perhaps the FA Cup tie of 1975. It is actually none of these; it is in fact when Lincoln City Reserves came to Boston for a Midland League match on Boxing Day 1947. Just over seven thousand football fans were packed into Shodfriars Lane, which is what Boston's ground was known as at that time. The game established a new record for the club at that time with regard to receipts, bringing in £425 after adding a proportionate share from season ticket holders to the £323 collected at the turnstiles.

After the Second World War watching football became an extremely popular pastime. Adverts in the Lincolnshire Standard give some indication of the alternative attractions on offer to the public. These included "Roller Skating de Luxe" at the Casino in Skegness at a cost of two shillings (10p) to skate or sixpence (2.5p) to watch or "Tea Dances" at the Abbey Lodge Inn, Woodhall Spa. The previous Good Friday, Boston had set their new Midland League attendance record when 6441 had turned up to watch the match against Grimsby Town Reserves. This season they had been playing much better, having won 14 out of their 19 Midland League matches played to date.

Boston began the match playing into the wind. Keeper Jock Bayne had to gather several powerful shots fired towards him by the visiting forwards, but poor finishing meant that they caused him few problems. Strikers Jack Stone and Cyril Brown were playing copybook football and their through passes were slicing open the Lincoln defence. Lincoln's left winger Tom Docherty frequently eluded Boston's right back George Darwin, but Bayne was able to save any shots that headed his way. BROWN scored the only goal of the first half to give Boston the lead. For half an hour after the interval Boston were supreme. Only the keeping of Ron Hewitt and some remarkable tackles by Copley prevented the home side from winning by a large margin. Boston only managed to increase their lead by a single goal. A fast cross was fired in to the centre from the right wing and Tommy MITCHAM hurled himself at the ball to head it into the net past the outstretched hands of Hewitt. Mitcham had been having an excellent season, being more fearless, stylish and dangerous than ever before. Lincoln got their consolation goal two minutes into additional time at the end of the match, when Alex DAVIES scored from a rebound after a shot from the left wing had been fisted away.

Tommy Mitcham

A couple of hours after the match Tommy Mitcham had an extra reason for celebration when his wife gave birth to a baby boy. She had gone into labour on the morning of the match but she did not want to worry her husband before the big game. So she waited for him to get home from the match before telling him to organise transport to the hospital where she gave birth at 7:30 p.m. that evening!

The Boxing Day victory was followed up with another win in the reverse fixture the very next day in Lincoln, which attracted a crowd of 6384. This time Boston won 1-0 with Jack Dagg getting the goal. The highlight of this match was a spectacular penalty save by Jock Bayne, who somehow managed to intercept a spot kick that was flying towards the top left hand corner of the goal. The double over Lincoln meant that Boston headed the Midland League table at the year's end. The second half of the season proved to be as bad as the first half had been good. Only five more wins were obtained and Boston slipped down to eleventh place.

United team: 1. Jim Bayne, 2. George Darwin, 3. Jack Long, 4. Harry Everett, 5. Roly Depear, 6. Martin, 7. Oliver Copestake, 8. Jack Stone, 9. Jack Dagg, 10. Cyril Brown, 11. Tommy Mitcham.

Lincoln City team: 1. Ron Hewitt, 2. Herbert Wilkinson, 3. Keenen, 4. Copley, 5. Greenberry, 6. Britten, 7. Geoff Taylor, 8. Alex Davies, 9. Roy Edwards, 10. Laurie Smedley, 11. Tom Docherty.

Attendance: 7039.

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